The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a petition challenging the Bombay high court order restricting the height of human pyramids to 20 feet during the famous Dahi-Handi festival in Maharashtra, but would also hear the original petitioner in the matter.
A bench headed by justice AR Dave said it will hear Swati Sayaji Patil who filed the public interest litigation based on which the Bombay high court had last year issued directions to the state government.
“We will give the order your want, but after hearing the petitioner,” the bench told additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who on behalf of Maharashtra government, requested it to stay the high court’s directions.
The court issued notice to Patil and asked her to be present on August 17, the next date of hearing. Patil has filed a contempt petition against the state alleging it had not implemented the high court order.
The SC’s decision to revive the appeal assailing the order came after the state moved an application seeking a clarification on whether children under 18 years can participate in the human pyramid formation. The court had banned minors from participating in the physical feat that is an integral part of the festivities during Janmashatami. Groups clamber over each other to build a pyramid to reach a pot of yogurt suspended tens of feet high up in the air.
The high court had on August 11, 2014, while hearing a petition filed by Patil, ordered that the height of human pyramids should not exceed 20 feet and that children below the age of 18 years should not be allowed to participate in the Dahi Handi ritual.
On an appeal, the SC had stayed the implementation of the HC order.
Later, however, it declared the petition infructuous because the festival had passed. No final opinion was delivered on the merits of the case. In the absence of a clear verdict from the apex court, confusion remains on the status of the high court’s directions, the state told the Supreme Court.